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Your Medical Treatment History Is For Sale

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the slippery-cliff dept.

Privacy 607

PizzaFace writes "The Washington Post reports on the booming business of selling your medical treatment records. Today these are mainly records of your prescriptions, but the data warehouses will soon have records of your lab tests, too. The companies selling these records make it easy for insurance companies to avoid risk by assigning each person a health score, similar to a credit score, or by flagging items in each person's history that suggest chronic or potentially expensive health problems. It's not just for insurers, either; employers who check applicants' credit scores will surely be interested in their health scores as well."

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607 comments

Alarmism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24484987)

Alarmism

Health care, what health care? (4, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24484991)

Looks to me like this is an excellent time to read up on alternative treatment methods, as the barabaric, for-profit US "healthcare system" appears hell-bent on becoming less and less available to those of us with imperfect health and fewer than several gazillions of dollars.

Here you can RTFA all on one page [washingtonpost.com].

Re:Health care, what health care? (0, Flamebait)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485047)

What does an article concerning the abusive marketing and perversion of HIPPA in the healthcare industry have anything to do with the politics of it being "barbarous"? Flimsy soapbox at best...

Re:Health care, what health care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485155)

RTFA much?
[HINT: Your question would've already been answered if you did.]

Re:Health care, what health care? (2, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485159)

For instance, if MedPoint produces a report that an individual has been on the highest dose of the cholesterol-reducing drug Zocor for 18 monts, the insurer "would be able to know that you have a very high, near-intractable cholesterol problem," Dick said, and could avoid a costly blood test.

Well, if they actually used this sort of information to "avoid a costly blood test" to measure cholesterol instead of as proof of a pre-existing condition they don't have to cover, and undoubtedly a fantastic reason to increase premiums, it wouldn't be barbaric at all.

Re:Health care, what health care? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485109)

Looks to me like this is an excellent time to read up on alternative treatment methods, as the barabaric, for-profit
US "healthcare system" appears hell-bent on becoming less and less available to those of us with imperfect health
and fewer than several gazillions of dollars.

Here you can RTFA all on
one page.

Alternative treatment methods? Like what? Magic and superstition? The US healthcare system has major issues, but it isn't bad enough that placebo healing works better.

Re:Health care, what health care? (2, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485299)

A bit OT, but here's one for you: I had an MRSA, which was treated by IV Vancomycin. MRSA came back. Again, I was treated with IV antibiotics. This went on every 2-1/2 to 3 months for nearly two years, I nearly lost my leg and suffered a great deal of pain. Finally, after doing some research, I found that colloidal silver (only the kind produced by HVAC method) might work. It did. No doctor, no hospital required. So yes, that opened my eyes a bit. And your evidence is...?

Re:Health care, what health care? (3, Insightful)

jejones (115979) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485387)

...something other than anecdotal?

I seriously hope that you don't come down with argyria.

Re:Health care, what health care? (4, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485117)

Maybe I'm missing something and there's a loop-hole, but AFAIK In Canada selling this information is illegal, and I thought that medical records were confidential in the US as well (apparently not). In Canada patients and health care professionals have client/doctor confidentiality similar to client / lawyer confidentiality. A doctor's office would lose it's practice if it handed over information to anyone without the patient's consent.

Of course there's downsides to our system too. Since health care is public doctor's can only charge so much and thus the only way to increase their income is to get more and more patients so doctors are over-worked and the waiting rooms are always packed with huge waits. Plus more and more of our top doctors move to the US where they can earn more. There's gotta be some kind of happy medium where everyone wins.

Re:Health care, what health care? (2, Informative)

Flying Scotsman (1255778) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485671)

Maybe I'm missing something and there's a loop-hole, but AFAIK In Canada selling this information is illegal, and I thought that medical records were confidential in the US as well (apparently not). In Canada patients and health care professionals have client/doctor confidentiality similar to client / lawyer confidentiality. A doctor's office would lose it's practice if it handed over information to anyone without the patient's consent. Similar laws exist in the US. From my understanding, the loophole here is that they're not selling the specific health information (such as "Mr. Smith has AIDS"), but they're selling the sales records of the drugs Mr. Smith is taking ("Mr. Smith is taking drugs that are used to treat AIDS").

Re:Health care, what health care? (2, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485689)

AFAIK In Canada selling this information is illegal

That it is... well, unless you sign a disclosure, which the article claims is required if you want to get insurance in the first place. So you're basically boned in the US if you want health care coverage *and* your personal privacy.

Re:Health care, what health care? (1, Interesting)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485311)

To play devil's advocate, why should those of us with good health have to pay extra for your problems? We still need heath insurance in case an accident happens (if we develop a condition, then we would be in the 'bad' health boat with you), but paying higher rates because 80% of the population has more problems (or visits the doctor more frequently because they think they do) isn't exactly fair either.

This is a very complex issue that I don't even remotely pretend to have the answer to, and US helth costs are quite high for a variety of reasons and something needs done about it. I just want to make sure both sides of the coin get presented.

And this health score thing is definately NOT the answer. Even people in good health would really rather not let additional people know they had a vasectemy, eh?

Re:Health care, what health care? (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485455)


And this health score thing is definately NOT the answer. Even people in good health would really rather not let additional people know they had a vasectemy, eh?

Agreed. This sort of thing will make the black-market health care industry explode. Plenty of people for various legit and not-so-much reasons wouldn't want people to know they've had this or that surgery or treatment.

Re:Health care, what health care? (5, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485561)

To play devil's advocate, why should those of us with good health have to pay extra for your problems?

Because on a long enough timeline, the chance that you won't get sick approaches 0.

Re:Health care, what health care? (3, Informative)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485577)

And to play devil's advocate to your devil's advocate what happens to you if your good health turns out not to be as good as you think it is?

I don't think someone should be made to pay higher healthcare costs for stuff that isn't his fault. But I think it should be fair game on lifestyle choices. If you smoke or drink then I think you should pay more in to the "system."

The really sad part I see is people seem to think the healthcare in general sucks. Which I don't see as true. Medicine in general is the best it has ever been. What sucks is the bureaucracy and the bullshit that as built up around it.

Re:Health care, what health care? (3, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485697)

Even people in good health would really rather not let additional people know they had a vasectemy, eh?

Are you kidding? I wish the doctor's office gave me a t-shirt and a tattoo to advertise that my baby batter has been replaced with "I Can't Believe It's Not Sperm".

Re:Health care, what health care? (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485773)

Because you're lucky enough to live in a culture where the great and powerful (supposedly) care for the poor and infirm, which you will be someday, provided you live long enough.

Re:Health care, what health care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485783)

Hmmm... There's a logic flaw here. To take your argument to the logical conclusion...

Why should those of us who have the good sense not to get into an accident pay for the problems of someone who does?

Re:Health care, what health care? (1, Troll)

zymano (581466) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485475)

There is no capitalism/free markets in our health care system.

Doctors and hospitals need to be transparent about costs.

We also need to remove the requirements for surgeons to have to go through extensive training to be doctors.

All of these requirements add to price of service. It's a little monopoly that the med community preserves in the name of safety.

Re:Health care, what health care? (2, Funny)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485559)

Have you considered immigration to Canada as an alternative treatment method?

Re:Health care, what health care? (1)

ArmyOfAardvarks (1281154) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485585)

Sorry, but I think I'll stick with traditional medicine. I'd rather deal with imperfection than to start taking placebos that are "natural" (as opposed to supernatural?) and don't contain chemicals (which means that they must just be vacuums as water is a chemical).

Work of a jew (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485049)

centralized database... i smell the footprint of jew invention...

HIPPA (5, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485053)

Sell my medical records and my lawyer will be in touch with your lawyer. See Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [wikipedia.org]

Re:HIPPA (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485097)

but wasn't google already setting this up and running in a few medical centers already? I think i read/saw/heard about this already...

"Yes there is risk, but the advantages you gain are worth it. You will no longer be at risk of receiving the wrong medicine or dosage because the computer will tell the nurse that you're already taking some other drug that will interact with the newly prescribed drug."

I believe that's what they said more or less.

Re:HIPPA (2, Informative)

l33tDad (1118795) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485123)

Exactly what I was thinking. I work in the IT department of a hospital and can tell you that I can't even look up my own lab reports or medical records without fear of disciplinary measures as technically it's a HIPAA violation! Even talk casually about a patient in a public place and it's a violation... Sell my records and I'm with the parent, have fun talking with my lawyers!

Re:HIPPA (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485213)

They're not selling your medical records, they're selling your financial transaction information (afaict), which is probably not covered under HIPAA. It's an end run. If there's one thing that humans are especially good at, it's finding loopholes in laws.

Re:HIPPA (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485347)

They can sell the financial transaction information all they want, but if they identify what was sold and it is medically related, that's a lawsuit.

$25 co-pay isn't going to tell them a whole lot. It's $25 for a $26 prescription and it is $25 for a $1000 prescription.

Re:HIPPA (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485521)

It is also $25 for a $10 prescription.

That's right, if you're not paying attention or your pharmacy is a whore and doesn't tell you, you pay $25 no matter what.

Bastards.

Re:HIPPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485605)

That depends on your PBM, and possibly your plan design.

Re:HIPPA (1)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485637)

But it sounds like they're getting info from pharmacy databases. I know I have HIPAA privacy statements from my doctor's office, but I don't ever remember getting one from a pharmacist. And the grantparent-references wikipedia seems to state the HIPAA just makes them give you their privacy statement, but doesn't seem to force them to have a privacy policy that excludes sharing info.

This just goes to show that if you or anyone in your family gets sick, you're totally screwed. McCain wants the market to help insurance costs, but it never will, because it's much cheaper for insurance companies to simply avoid insuring sick people than try to drive down costs. Obama has all but dropped healthcare as an issue, and wanted to let people opt out anyway.

This really is the last straw. If we don't have meaningful healthcare legislation in both houses within the month of the election and/or it's not signed a year into the next presidency, I'm ready to join a lawful militia and refuse to pay taxes. Who's with me?

Re:HIPPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485781)

They're not selling your medical records, they're selling your financial transaction information (afaict), which is probably not covered under HIPAA. It's an end run. If there's one thing that humans are especially good at, it's finding loopholes in laws.

My thoughts exactly, though in addition to what you said comes the obvious that it is a loophole that needs to be closed. Hopefully these records can't be just purchased in mass with a list of names or less due to the potential harm not only from its effects on your purchasing of insurance or job seeking but the potential inherent in such records for identity theft. One point I disagree with you on is that these are your part of your medical records but worse, since they are incomplete and highly subject to misinterpretation. Purchase records of individuals is something that should not be kept beyond the point of collection of the bill for those items and never should be sold or traded in any fashion, including be given to the government without due process, why we accept this abuse is beyond me.

Re:HIPPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485359)

you sign over the right to your medical history when you request a quote for insurance. secondly, this has been happening for quite some time now, usually overseas where claims and other outsourced services are going to companies out of the realm of our government and protections such as HIPPA or PHI.

Re:HIPPA (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485533)

RTFA!

But HIPAA does not give the Department of Health and Human Services the ability to directly investigate or hold accountable entities, such as pharmacy benefit managers or companies such as Ingenix and Milliman, who are not covered by HIPAA

Re:HIPPA (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485677)

They are operating within the letter of the law as they datamine through information insurance dependents have consensually released to insurance companies. As Wikipedia puts it, "A [HIPPA] covered entity may disclose... if the covered entity has obtained authorization from the individual." I guess you'll now be demanding another 10 years worth of legal wrangling to establish another regulation regime to "fix" this...

Keep throwing government at it. I would tell you that you won't be happy with the results of nationalizing a $2.1E12 per year industry, but you won't listen to that either.

Ughh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485089)

This makes me feel sick. ...

Just like Slashdots *ridiculous* minimum length filter. I mean, I just want to type a smart-ass unfunny commment as an AC and watch with pride as it get's modded +5 funny. Is that too much to ask I asks ya.

Re:Ughh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485335)

Is it too much to ask for you to spell GETS properly? You know, the letter s doesn't need special protection from the other letters, as a matter of fact it wants to be closer to them.

Re:Ughh (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485641)

Is it too much to ask for you to spell GETS properly?

Dude, he's an anonymous cow... oh, shit, never mind.

This is stupid (1)

elemnt14 (1319289) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485115)

I think this is a terrible way to go. Its not my fault that I have a certain condition that could potentially stop me from getting heath insurance. Wasn't there something like this a while back about getting your DNA mapped for potential conditions, and that insurance corporations could use that data like this article suggests? If this goes through, we are going to start seeing "Selective breeding" again so we all can afford heathcare. Then again, we are all going to die one day, so why have heath care in the first place?

Re:This is stupid (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485189)

No, it is your fault, you liberal hippie. If you would stop being lazy, you could get your physician's license and cure your own problems instead of depending on others to help you. Ron Paul 4ever!

Re:This is stupid (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485259)

I'm fine with society unrolling (so to speak) the genetic dice (to make sure no one misunderstands, I mean that it is a good thing for society to step in and pay for expensive treatments for people that need them from birth), but can we go ahead and call it a tax instead of dancing around pretending that it is insurance?

Re:This is stupid (3, Funny)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485769)

If this goes through, we are going to start seeing "Selective breeding" again so we all can afford heathcare.

Nothing wrong with a little selective breading. Make that part of the insurance policy. We'll treat you for your known, genetic conditions that will most likely be passed on to any children, if you agree to be sterilized. It's either that or start repopulating major cities with large carnivors to take care of the slow and the week.

It would take care of the obsesity problem and protect endangered species all at the same time!

A Non-Issue. (5, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485127)

This is a difficult discussion to have:

Car insurance knows how many accidents you've had. Home insurance knows what claims you've made. All the insurance companies know your criminal record.

Health records may be private - you don't particularly want your neighbors to know about it. But the company that is insuring you certainly has a right to know what type of risk they're insuring - and just like auto insurance your cost should reflect it.

At the same time, health care is something that is a necessity. So if they price it out of range, how do you protect yourself? Removing preventive care due to cost and substituting emergency care in it's place is a horrible solution, but if it's priced out of range, that is what may happen.

This is why the government is going to have to step into health care in some way. It's in the Health Insurance company's best interests to not insurance people that are high risk. In a free market, those people will end up being uninsured.

I hate government intervention in any market, but I don't see any way around it. You can walk to the store and work. You can't perform an appendectomy on yourself.

Vigilantism is s (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485207)

Watch the people who can't get insurance, and yet have a life-threatening health issue, go Rambo.

Health Care Insurance employees better watch their backs.

Re:Vigilantism is s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485573)

Somewhat along this thought, I wonder if we are going to see some sort of "Fight Club" event in the future where collections of invasive data about people are tracked down and eliminated in some way or another giving everyone a fresh start. (obviously, probably not through the use of explosives. Probably.)

mod parent up (2, Interesting)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485293)

I'm a (usually) economically conservative person, and i agree totally with this. Government controlled health care is one of the few instances where socializing an industry is in the best interests of society as a while.

Re:mod parent up (1)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485509)

It all depends on the extent..

If were talking about things like Chemo, Pacemakers, Transplants, and Mental health its impossible to argue against the government making sure all Americans have equal access. If were talking about truly elective procedures I'm not so certain. And in no way should we go away from allowing private insurance to supplement what the government offers..

Re:mod parent up (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485613)

Agreed. The latest fad in corporate health care is for companies to ban smoking on property and remove unhealthy food from cafeterias...to save $ on health care costs. Whether those things are necessary or not should not be determined by my employer, who has my hands tied behind my back.

Health care is already socialized, but wouldn't you rather have it run by an elected body rather than your boss? There's no expectation of fairness in a corporation, but with your government you can at least fight for it. Don't you want to get, or not get a job entirely based on your skills and work ethic? Isn't that more important to the smooth operation of american businesses? Other than the option to decline, do you really have buying power now, or the ability to shop for better coverage/cost?

The only conversation we should be having about national health care is how it should work, not whether we need it.

Re:mod parent up (3, Informative)

non (130182) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485649)

wrong.

wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

repeat after me; wrong.

why, you wonder, are you wrong? in a system where market participants place performance, or more properly, are bound by law to place performance, above all other measures of success it is plain that the welfare of the consumer is not considered unless also mandated by law, and even then will be considered less important than the business's performance if there are not sufficiently dissuasive penalties.

for further reference see RailTrack [wikipedia.org].

Re:A Non-Issue. (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485539)

No, the Health insurance does NOT have the right to know what type of risk they are insuring. What happens when they can take a sample of our blood, and instantly tell us if we are at risk for Heart Disease, Brain Tumors, Cancer, etc etc etc etc... Car insurance NEEDS that information because when you pay insurance, you aren't just covering yourself, you are covering all the dumb mistakes you do. no one told you to speed, or run the red light, but car insurance still covers you in those situations (of course your insurance is going to be raised). Health insurance, for the most part, isn't covering the stupid mistakes you make. Just because you were tested at birth and it showed that you had a 30% chance of going near sight in the next 10 years, vs the average of say 5%, you think that person deserves to pay more?

Re:A Non-Issue. (1)

EvolutionsPeak (913411) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485609)

What about people who engage in risky activity such as smoking or drinking? Should I shoulder the burden of their poor decision making? I think not.

Re:A Non-Issue. (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485549)

The issue is that health coverage needs are not necessarily the fault of the person. For many illnesses/medical conditions, they are genetic or from a true accident. Are they at fault? Isn't that part of the reason you have insurance? Should you punish them for it with higher premiums?

For accidents, there is at least some correlation between personal behavior and risk. It's not a perfect analogy.

Data-mining the health records just allows for the companies to "stick it" to the people who are in the most need for insurance.

The big issue then becomes that the sickest people do not have insurance...guess who picks up the tab then? ...and it's not the insurance companies...

but but... (4, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485553)

Healthcare rationing! Long waiting lists! Socialism!

Of course, healthcare in the US is already rationed (just according to your ability to pay for it) and you already have to wait for procedures and tests (like the week and a half it took my wife to get the insurance company and various doctors involved to schedule an MRI that everyone agreed she needed).

Insurance companies are probably the worst type of organization to have making healthcare decisions.

Re:A Non-Issue. (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485579)

No doubt. Insurance companies are not charities. They answer to the stock holders. If people have medical problems due to no fault of their own then the government should pick up the slack. For those with problems due to self abuse(putting crap in your body, not exercising, trying to be the skateboard faceplant king, etc) I say you're on your own.

it doesn't have to be covered by the government (1)

lotzmana (775963) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485627)

System could be set up which is not part from the government. It has to have element of solidarity, this doesn't inherently come from it being the government: sicker people are subsidized by healthier individuals. Every body pays into this system and it can be separate from government taxes. This could be a solid finance base on top of which one can impose voluntary insurance for extra benefits -- getting better room, color TV, etc. while in hospital.

If it is separate is could be better managed. And there could be more focused pressure on eliminating waste and demanding better prices from hospitals and other providers. I feel it will be less so if money come from the general pool of collected taxes. It will also be more cleanly delineated on your pay check as a separate item.

Re:A Non-Issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485681)

PLEASE.

Comparing automotive insurance to health insurance is very dumb.

Most people with chronic illnesses are sometimes (but not always) related to genetics.

I have type 1 diabetes. So i should be scored higher then my brother because I was genetically unlucky.

Where as if i have better auto insurance it's usually an indicator of following the laws, rare accidents, and good luck. And if an accident does occur I can pay to make it go away out of pocket, however I can't pay to have my diabetes go away. I can only control it so that I can live.

Re:A Non-Issue. (1)

Starcub (527362) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485699)

Most of the companies you mentioned provie insurance against things that people have a great deal of control over. Only those records that pertain to health matters that people have control over should be made available to insurance companies. So for example, health insurers have a right to know if you drink or smoke, or have had elective proceedures that might pose health risks like plastic surgeries or abortions.

You're right however: it's a non-issue, but only because without tight controls over medical records and effective regulation it's going to happen anyway; and government won't require or provide either. Another reason it's a non-issue: health care is already priced out of range for most americans, unless your employer pays for it.

Re:A Non-Issue. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485707)

The Federal Government already stepped into healthcare -- medicare and medicaid for example. You know how the federal government can't *require* a state to do something ... but if you don't, we'll cut off funding for all those other things you depend on ....

Government intervention is just as bad, if not worse, in the healthcare industry. Some smaller private clinics don't accept medicaid to avoid dealing with the paperwork, low reimbursement rates (raising costs for by everyone else, particularlry uninsured people who aren't deadbeats), and general bullshit. Larger institutions don't really have a choice about it.

Oh, and douchebags like John Edwards who raise malpractice rates with junk science lawsuits.

On the other side of the coin (1)

deft (253558) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485199)

The interesting side of this is that people who stay in good shape and are generally ahead of the curve may see some benefits in the premiums they pay. Sloth (the sin, not the hero of goonies) will be actually financially penalized.

All sorts of horrible implications to this, diseases people cant control, genetic manipulation of kids seems much more practical and desirable as a finnacial benefit to avoid fees now too. Great moral implications and debates on this one.

Re:On the other side of the coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485351)

People will find out they're in great shape and will drop coverage to save money. Why pay for diabetes when you're not a fat piece of burger scoff shit? Insurance companies will raise premiums to keep the huge profits. This idea has been doing the rounds for decades.

Re:On the other side of the coin (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485551)

The interesting side of this is that people who stay in good shape and are generally ahead of the curve may see some benefits in the premiums they pay.

No they won't. The best anyone can hope for, barring radical policy change on the part of the U.S. government, is that their costs won't go up too much for them to afford.

Good health? Costs go up. Bad health? Costs go up more.

Re:On the other side of the coin (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485713)

Not true, you will just end up paying for the perceived risk associated with all the people that bought hydrocortisone that will be flagged has having eczema (or something just as mondane). They are looking to increase your payments not decrease them. There is also the cost of paying for this service will is probably quite high and will also be put on to a healthy person's bill.

Get real, this will be just as useful as the credit scores were for preventing people who could not pay from getting a home loan. What are you going to do it they make a mistake and find that you have an Aids drug prescription when you really don't and you get dumped from your insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Or even worse the insurance companies start basing there premiums to employers based on the perceived health of the work force. you might no get that next job if you are older or maybe over weight.

The only people how will benefit from this is the investors in the data provider.

yuo f4ilM it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485223)

When I Stood for anybody'S guess

I must be missing something.. (1)

sudog (101964) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485257)

.. why would an employer need to know what your credit score is?

Re:I must be missing something.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485401)

A credit score is *generally* considered a good measure of how reliable/organized/trustworthy a person is. For example, someone with a history of missing payments and general financial trouble is not (generally) going to be someone a company wants to put in a high-stress, high-responsibility position. At least, that's the theory.

Re:I must be missing something.. (1)

dbizzle (603994) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485425)

too bad we can't trust the companies that watch that information to be as reliable/organized/trustworthy as we appear to be from an informal numbering system.

Re:I must be missing something.. (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485413)

If you have a bad credit rating, you aren't good at handling your personal finances, so why would you be any better handling your duties at work?

( not that i agree, but that is the thinking, and why they ask )

Re:I must be missing something.. (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485589)

If you have a bad credit rating, you aren't good at handling your personal finances, so why would you be any better handling your duties at work? ( not that i agree, but that is the thinking, and why they ask )

That certainly is their misguided thinking, isn't it? All the doctors I know, they are terrible at maintaining their health. I know accountants who are terrible at managing their money. Lots of developers have the worst-organized environment I've seen in their home.

People in all the groups above OTOH have given me some great advice, guidance and care despite their personal inabilities they are great at what they do.

Re:I must be missing something.. (1)

PetiePooo (606423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485457)

.. why would an employer need to know what your credit score is?

They don't need to know, but many like to know as it gives an indication about personal responsibility and fiscal management.

Re:I must be missing something.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485467)

You could be in a classified area, and people with bad credit scores usually have significant money problems and have a statistically higher likelyhood of selling your secrets.

Re:I must be missing something.. (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485735)

Because people with bad credit scores are always lazy, thieving bastards.

Great (2, Interesting)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485303)

And I'm busting my ass encrypting laptops for HIPAA compliance so stupid med students don't lose an anonymous list of patient encounter notes.

your presciption drug history is also for sale (2, Interesting)

lotzmana (775963) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485319)

Just a week ago BusinessWeek had a piece about health care insurance companies buying your prescription drug history onto which they base your insurance premium.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_31/b4094000643943.htm [businessweek.com]

Health care probably needs more an element of solidarity. Insurance is a business and as such it is legitimate for them to aspire for higher profits. Cynically, it is also legitimate for an insurance company to deny services to higher risk individuals. It is legitimate for a business but it points to deep deficiencies in how health care finances are set up in US.

In contrast, Germany's system (and probably others in Europe) has an element of solidarity. Healthier people subsidize sicker people. American system is an insurance, set up for calamity but actually used as pre-paid service.

American Disabilities Act (ADA) (1)

gump59 (174359) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485327)

Says you can't discriminate against those with disabilities as long as they can perform the job with reasonable accommodations.

"It's not just for insurers, either; employers who check applicants' credit scores will surely be interested in their health scores as well."

Any employer with over 15 employees that tries to require health screening as part of the hiring process will find themselves in court rather quickly.

Re:American Disabilities Act (ADA) (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485461)

The problem is proving that the employer used the data against you. Its so easy to find other reasons that are hard to fight to do what ever they want that its all a big joke.

Ben Dover (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485343)

American's are all fat lazy bastards that eat McDonald's everyday!!!!

Fsck Insurance Companies! (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485363)

Another reason to despise insurance companies. I don't know what would be more disappointing finding out my daughter was a stripper or that she works for an insurance company. Either way, she's probably screwin' way too many people!

Re:Fsck Insurance Companies! (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485575)

Strippers don't usually screw random people, so I would say the stripper is MUCH more innocent than Big Bubba Insurance, Inc.

The Sick and The Dead (2, Insightful)

DustyCase (619304) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485383)

This is just another way in which the insurance industry works to defeat access to preventative medicine. You want the screening for early detection, but it might lead to you losing your insurance, or getting dropped from an employer plan and having to go it alone.

The insurance industry knows three things: Sick people cost money Healthy people cost less money Dead people cost even less money

Guess which they want the most of? The faster you move from sick to dead, the better their bottom line looks.

You will be judged by your history (0)

burnitdown (1076427) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485411)

Car insurance, purchasing habits, criminal record, credit score: all of these things are now available.

Why do we need them?

Well... for starters, we're awash in people of criminal behavior.

If you want to be free from crazy companies judging you, work hard to eliminate the real abusers of the system.

Their actions do have an impact on you -- it's the fractional distribution of socialized cost.

oh gee what a surprise (5, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485415)

I don't know why anyone would be surprised that an organization the goal of which is to maximize profits would do its best to cut costs (paying for your medical care) and maximize income (acquiring the money of you, your employer and the government i.e. other taxpayers as health-care premiums). You'd have to fail Logic 101 to think things would be otherwise.

On the other hand, what the Washington Post will suggest is the "solution" to this nonsense is even more illogical: you should give all your health-care money to another organization, Congress, which is also most interested in something other than your health -- namely, keeping political power. What do you suppose will influence Congressmen when they decide what to do with your health-care money, and how to provide you with health-care? Altruism? Your actual happiness? Using your money most efficiently? Hmmm. Is that how it works now, when Congress debates how copyright should work in the Digital Age, or whether it makes sense to subsidize turning corn into ethanol (instead of food)?

Once again, we're confronted with the nasty little fact o' life that the only agent that will ever have only your interests at heart is you. Given that, which of these three options makes sense?

(A) Give your money to a big insurance company, run by strangers with Harvard MBAs seeking to maximize profits for shareholders, then ask for some of it back when you want some health care.

(B) Give your money to Congress, run by smooth-talking lawyers seeking to maximize their terms in office through maintaining access to the massive amounts of cash necessary for perennial re-election, then ask for some of it back when you want some health care.

(C) Keep your money, and spend it on health care when and where you choose.

Strangely enough, people keep choosing (A) and (B), under the amazing delusion that somehow if you make all the transactions really complicated -- shuffle the dollar bills around fast enough -- we can receive more value in health care than we pay out in actual money. Proof that the bitter lesson of TANSTAAFL has not been learned by most adults.

Re:oh gee what a surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485747)

The problem is you don't have enough money to get solve your own health care problems if you get some chronic disease or serious injury unless you are very very rich. So either you (a) choose to just die or (b) spread the risk over many people and have the majority of healthy pay for the minority sick.

So, IT can up the cost for their services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24485653)

I have been charging medical and insurance customers through the nose for any work I do for them, and tell them it is a reflection on what I have to spend when I need their services, tit for tat...

I see no reason that all IT professionals shouldn't reflect the ability to pay the same as these two groups do...they make more than enough to pay that higher cost, to make up for those that can't afford to pay a premium...(you hear that crap from both medical and insurance sides...they charge on the basis of ability to pay...)

tit for tat

Goodbye. (1)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485679)

Guess they want to put themselves out of business through some sort of nationalized health care. You'd think the threat would make them more customer focused, but I guess they're far too long gone for that.

Personal Control of my Medical Records? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485721)

I have serious problems with the idea of my medical history being "made available" (whether for sale or free), but I cannot articulate a good argument that would mean that the simple existence of a national health treatment database is a bad thing.

I mean, my house could burn and I would lose the paper copies of all that stuff. I don't have it all committed to memory. I have not had "my own doctor" for anything since college (I am 25). I could see a "medical database" working *if* it gives me absolute control over where the information is sold.

Tell you what... here is what I would support. Let them create the database, but require that I am the *only* person who can request information out of it. Then, when an employer or insurer wants my medical history, they can request that I provide a copy of it, much like I am required to provide a copy of my academic transcript to an employer or potential graduate school application.

So, let the insurance company "request" a copy of my information from me. Then let me forward the request to the "medical database". That authorizes the "medical database" to send a bill to the insurance company, who will send a copy of the records when the payment is received.

"Health Care" (2, Insightful)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485741)

The problem here is that there is money at stake. The insurance companies are only interested in the amounts that we spend on health care anyway, they don't particularly care about the treatments themselves. They care about the amounts because, they would infer, high-speanding = sick = more sickness over time.

No "health care" involved. The companies are worried about how much they will spend if they take you on as a client.

Also, they have had access to physicians records for some time—again for the same reasons. And guess what (RTFA, or the "Privacy Rule" in HIPAA): HIPAA doesn't apply. When you apply for insurance, read the fine-print, because there are clauses in there about allowing them access to your medical billing records. These days they are just electronic, ergo easier to access. This is why they want access to prescription info as well, because then they can use this to more finely tune their systems of prescription drug co-pay scenarios.

I don't think that it was ever up for debate that the United States "health care" system has nothing to do with health, but another good indicator would be that insurance plans typically don't cover anything that can be deemed preventative, including basic physical examinations, and routine diagnostic testing such as STD/HIV tests, cancer-screenings, etc. Those tests are only paid for if they are deemed "necessary" for the diagnosis of a condition, rather than the prevention of a condition.

There has never been a better time for a national health-care system in the US. Also, there has never been a worse time: we don't have any more money.

Yeah you go girl (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 5 years ago | (#24485777)

Not true, you will just end up paying for the perceived risk associated with all the people that bought hydrocortisone that will be flagged has having eczema (or something just as mondane). They are looking to increase your payments not decrease them. There is also the cost of paying for this service will is probably quite high and will also be put on to a healthy person's bill. Get real, this will be just as useful as the credit scores were for preventing people who could not pay from getting a home loan. What are you going to do it they make a mistake and find that you have an Aids drug prescription when you really don't and you get dumped from your insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Or even worse the insurance companies start basing there premiums to employers based on the perceived health of the work force. you might no get that next job if you are older or maybe over weight. The only people how will benefit from this is the investors in the data provider.
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